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“…asceticism is the path to holiness, growth, and stability…If we practice asceticism and strip away our ego, control our ‘false self’, and learn ‘self-forgetfulness’, we each embody the Lord’s Prayer. We have to empty the self (kenosis) in order to become our true self.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley, Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“…asceticism “is the struggle of the person against rebellious nature, against the nature which seeks to achieve on its own what it could bring about only in personal unity and communion with God.” Our “restoration” to a life of personal communion with God and so our personal “resistance” to the powers of sin and death, “presuppose a struggle” within each human heart that is often lacking in contemporary society and even our churches.” (Christos Yannaras)

“According to our faith, our goal is clearly eschatological. It’s the experience of holiness in this present life. This is also why the faithful follow the commands of the Gospel, sensing that ‘their own will’ won’t automatically guide them towards what’s good, but will, instead, probably inject us with the prospect of self-deification, which means spiritual death. So ascetic endeavor, which is the supreme and sometimes self-imposed limitation of our being, functions not as deprivation or oppression, but as a starting-point for the experience of love. I fast, I pray, I abandon my dependence on material things not as self-torture or the remedy for guilt, but as joy that I can give myself to God and other people. That, in the end, is the vision of the Church, the kingdom of God, into which everyone can enter, if they live by ‘your will be done’.” (Protopresbyter Themistoklis Mourtzanos)

“While prayer is not itself an ascetical practice, asceticism is the leaven of our contemplation. It gives rise to our prayer by stripping away ego, making our hearts supple and our wills more responsive to the movement of the Spirit. The ability to release the relentless thoughts and impulses of the false self in each moment is an ascesis in its own right. Without asceticism our prayer remains dense, heavy, weighed down by worldly cares and concerns. The leaven of asceticism raises us to that place of interior tranquility, rest, and self-forgetfulness…As we learn to release our cares and anxieties in surrender to God we gradually become the very embodiment of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Will be done.” (Vincent Pizzuto)

“We stand in need not of greater justice, but of healing mercy. If we are truly sharing in the life of Christ, we will show that same mercy to our neighbors, including those who wander in blindness. In order to gain the spiritual clarity to do that, we must mindfully turn away from all that would keep us in the dark and enslaved to sin and death. Because the eyes of our souls are not yet fully transparent to the light, darkness clouds our sight. We must struggle to become fully receptive to the brilliant divine energies of our Lord through the healing found in the sacramental and ascetical life of the Church.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Asceticism does not consist of prohibitions. Asceticism is activity, a working out, a perfection of oneself . . . inspired by the task of inspiration…When you have no theology of asceticism because you believe you’ve got salvation wrapped up, then cultivating virtue has no incentive. All that’s left is activism and activities.” (Father Georges Florovsky, Father Andrew Stephen Damick)

“In the first stage a man turns from darkness to light, from the domain of Satan to God; in the second, he cleanses the chamber of his heart from every impurity, in order to receive Christ the Lord Who is coming to him; in the third, the Lord comes, takes up His abode in his heart, and communes with him. This is the state of blessed communion with God—the goal of all labors and ascetic endeavors.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“Fasting and other ascetic acts do not necessarily indicate virtue. Blessed Augustine reminds us that even heretics fast! God will not see these actions if we mistreat others. God chooses rather that we humble our own soul. ‘A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit’ (Psalm 50:9 LXX, 51:9)…The ascetic disciplines we practice are not intended to punish us, but to train us in how to obtain salvation and then evangelize others. If we fail to discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection, we may discover that although we have preached to others, we ourselves have “become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).” (Orthodox Study Bible, Isaiah 58:2-5, Dynamis 1/5/2020)

“The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked, “Did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners?” That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says “I”: “was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.” To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need.” (Maria Skobtsova, Father Michael P. Plekon)

“In heaven, the bruises of suffering will not be eliminated but will be transformed by divine love into a newness of life. Christ’s risen body still carries the nail prints and scars of His crucifixion. Heaven is not a place of eternal slumber or a long sleep-in, but a life of constant change, continual creativity and newness, changing from glory to glory, more into Christ. St. Anthony the Great tells us, “The fruits of the earth are not brought to perfection immediately, but by time, rain, and care; similarly, the fruits of men ripen through ascetic practice, study, time, perseverance, self-control, and patience.” (Albert S. Rossi, PhD)

“ASCETICISM (from Gr. askesis, “athlete”) A spiritual struggle—the crucifixion of the desires of the flesh––through a life of prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Through asceticism the Christian fights temptation to sin and thereby grows in spiritual strength…asceticism is not only for monasteries, but also for the world…Regular reading, study, and reflection on God’s Word in the Bible is an essential part of Christian ascetic life.” (Orthodox Study Bible, St. Porphyrios the Kapsokalivite, Father Thomas Hopko)

“Asceticism is at the root of the Christian faith. God gave Adam and Eve and ascetic command designed for their well-being and growth…to fast from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…when they broke this command, essentially abandoning ascetism for self-indulgence, they found themselves separated from God. As laypeople, we often do the same not understanding ascetism and self-denial are a universal means of spiritual growth and communion with God that is for all Christians…This ascetic ethos of the Church applies equally for all people and is exemplified in monasticism." (Sacramental Living Ministries, Archimandrite Sergius)

“If you love true knowledge, devote yourself to the ascetic life…the ascetic life to the everyday person who works a job, has a family and is in the so called “real world” looks different than from a monastic but the discipline of participating in the life of Christ remains the same – daily prayer, going to church, regular fasting…doing the things that move us toward God, denying the things that move us away from God." (St. Mark the Ascetic, Sacramental Living Ministries)

“St. Paul notes that “faith works through love” (Gal. 5:6). This describes the very heart of the ascetic life. Only love extends itself in the self-emptying struggle against the passions without becoming lost in the solipsism of asceticism for its own sake. It is love that endures the contradictions of reality without turning away or reducing them. And it is love that finally comprehends the reality hidden within the contradictions that confront us.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

"One could say the whole battle of Christian life, the very purpose of asceticism, is to acquire divine love." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)


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